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TiVo

Loving what I don't know

So there's some thing with Tiger Woods going on? I don't know what it is, and I love that. I couldn't identify Jon (John?) or Kate or any of the eight in a lineup. I had to look up who Glenn Beck was. I don't know which stars are dancing or who's dancing with them, which Americans I'm supposed to be idolizing, or whether any of us have talent. There's a Miss California who said one thing and did a bunch of other things, and I confess I know more about her, but she never becomes a big part of my day and I wasn't looking to her for political or moral advice anyway—she's Miss California, for Pete's sake.

That's not to declare everything I don't know to be silly. I tune into (at least) my share of the silliness with The Amazing Race, Survivor, and plenty of others. I'm just so glad I can choose whether to pay attention to this stuff. We only watch commercials if they catch our eye, and local evening news ads just give us things to make fun of with their fear mongering and ridiculous questions, which they promise to answer only in their timeslot (thanks for looking out for all of us, "journalists"!).

Likewise, if I want to know something, I usually can tune in and look it up. If Afghanistan is important to me, I can pay attention. If I want the latest on health care, I just look and listen. It's all there. I'm not sure how well journalism functions as the "fourth estate" of our society today—it seems mostly to serve up the content people want to consume, just like the rest of the popular media. But that's more of an observation than a critique.

I'm not uncomfortable with a culture where I choose what gets my attention and what doesn't—that's life, and I'm glad I have that freedom and responsibility. If I'm frustrated with how much attention something is getting, then it's probably getting way too much of mine. If I can't look away, then there's a problem—the Matrix has me. Time to wake up.

Comments

This is good. I read it, then thought that the really aggravating thing is that this stuff gets into the news because MOST people read it, otherwise it wouldn't be out there. And it's aggravating that so many people are interested--don't they have anything better to put into their heads?? But my thought after THAT one is that it's not my job to judge that. Obviously, I don't think my own silly distractions are that silly, but they might easily look like a huge waste of time to other people. Which reminds me that once, when I was working at Starbucks, a co-worker picked up the book I was reading on break and said, "You're reading THIS??" Because, apparently, I should never be merely entertaining myself with Robert Jordan's Conan series (which I didn't finish, incidentally, BORING).

Anyway, I should stop being a snob.
Yeah, I'm not sure where the line is between being a snob and being OK with my own choices (or if there is a line). Truth isn't relative, but taste absolutely is, and now that we can access more and more content, there's less objectivity in simply navigating our culture. That makes me really glad to have guideposts like Philippians 4:8-9, so that (hopefully) the truth can determine my direction through all the stuff. It's the only way I can find any rest!
I'm teaching "media literacy" in my classroom and it deals with these things...in a world where people are flooded with information, I'm trying to be one tiny flicker or flame in the kids' lives that makes them say, "Stop. Think. What IS this?"

Cool post. I like your insight.
Thank you! I think the flooding aspect of our information age definitely has its downside. It's going to take discipline and awareness to keep from being snowed under—they're just survival skills for a different era (most of us don't fight off bears or raise our own food). And in some respects, marketers and big media function as predators—they'll pick off the weak. That's not to say there aren't valid cultural critiques, but on the whole, we still get to be (and must be) the stewards of our attention and choices.
My husband and I don't have cable, and it's been refreshing to get our news online and our shows from Hulu or Netflix online.

It's nice to be able to choose.